The Wall: Events for the week of March 22

Who: Venue of Merging Arts (VOMA)
What: “VOMA Presents: The Blues Gathering”
Where: VOMA, located at 305 Chestnut St. in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood
When: March 25 beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Additional details: This month’s celebration of the blues features Randy Penrod of Running Free on guitar and vocals; Ian Jefferies of Running Free on bass and vocals; Adam Milkovich of AM² on guitar and harmonica; and Adam Mundok of AM² on percussion and harmonica. Doors for this BYOB event are to open at 7 p.m. VOMA VIP members receive a discount on admission.

Who: Ron McIntosh
What: “Gardening for Wildlife: How to Attract Pollinators to Your Garden” Seminar
Where: Sandyvale Memorial Gardens and Conservancy Greenhouse, located at 80 Hickory St. in Johnstown’s Hornerstown neighborhood
When: March 25 from 10 a.m. to noon
Additional details: Ron McIntosh, a local horticulturalist and the owner of “Green Grower Grown Organic Produce,” offers this seminar. Those who attend can learn how to garden in order to attract bees, birds and butterflies. Free refreshments are to be served. To register, visit or call 814-266-7891 and a registration form will be mailed. Class size is limited to 30 seats per session.

Who: Ferndale Area High School Class of 1967
What: Classmates searching for classmates
Additional details: If you have not been contacted, or know someone who has not been contacted, regarding Ferndale’s class of 1967’s 50th reunion, call Polly (Grove) Simmons at 814-241-3146 or email

Who: Windber Area Community Kitchen (W.A.C.K.)
What: Free community dinner
Where: Windber Calvary United Methodist Church, located at 1800 Stockholm Ave. in Windber
When: March 25 from 4 to 6 p.m.
Additional details: This meal is to be served by Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The menu features ham, au gratin potatoes, corn, fruit, assorted desserts and beverages. All are welcome.

Who: Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art—Loretto
What: Alcohol Inks Class
Where: Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art—Loretto, located on the campus of St. Francis University
When: April 2 (but registration due ASAP)
Additional details: Led by Martha Murphy, this class is to be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The cost to attend is $60 per person, which includes all materials. The class is designed for beginners and accomplished artists alike. Alcohol ink is an acid-free, highly pigmented and fast-drying medium to be used on non-porous surfaces. Mixing colors can create a vibrant marbled effect. Students will be encouraged to experiment with the inks on paper as well as tile pieces. Basic design elements are to be used, as well as ideas on custom color mixing. Participants are encouraged to bring images for inspiration. Class size is limited in order to ensure maximum instructor interaction for all participants. Pre-registration and deposits are required. For more information or to register, contact a museum staff member by calling 814-472-3920 or emailing

Finkle family art on display at the Mount


Artists Bob, Joanne and Jason Finkle have an eclectic collection of more than 50 pieces on display through May 19 at the Wolf-Kuhn Art Gallery at Mount Aloysius College.

The Finkle Exhibit features unique wood and stone sculptures created by Bob Finkle, paintings by his wife, Joanne, and wooden bowls created by their son, Jason.

“What I try to do is present (the piece) in such a way as to bring the surface of the beauty that lives within it,” Bob Finkle wrote in a statement to the college. “It is my intent to use the lines and colors that have surfaced due to all the forces of nature that have been inflicted upon them.”

Joanne Finkle uses a mixed media technique that draws audiences in to her colorful, textured artworks.

“The collection here at Mount Aloysius is what I refer to as an eclectic assortment,” Joanne Finkle said. “There is quite a variety, but that’s just me! I really enjoy the experimental part of art. You never quite know how it will develop.”

Their son, Jason, works on a lathe and created his 100th bowl in 2015.

“Carving on the lathe is a very Zen sort of process for me,” he said. “It allows me to escape the pressures of the workday and I feel really good at the end of the day if I manage to create something that even surprises me.”

Bob Finkle believes the exhibit completes a circle of sorts, bringing their family’s collection back to where their artistic creativity all began.

“It is a true honor for the Finkle family to be coming home to Mount Aloysius College and we hope you enjoy our art,” he said. “The Mount has been an important influence on its creation and on all of our lives.”

The Wolf-Kuhn Art Gallery is located on the first floor of the main building, and is open daily. To inquire about the gallery’s hours or about pieces for sale, call 814-886-6470 or email


We end a full month of cheap booze with an old standard.

Affectionately referred to as “Genny” by adoring fans, Genesee is advertised as one of America’s oldest continually operating breweries. It has a brine-ish scent, lots of head and a flavor heavy on barley, conveying traces of month-old peanuts. The aftertaste, unlike the light version of this, is thankfully not pure aluminum.

Don’t misunderstand: Genny isn’t the worst entry to the review this month. But at $13 for a 24-pack, you have to dock points for it being the most expensive of the bargain beers.

Final standings: Extra Gold Lager in first, Milwaukee Special Reserve in second, Genesee in third, Pennsylvania Style Lager in fourth and American (sorry, @POTUS) a distant fifth. 



‘Norwegian Summers’
11 songs, 46 minutes
Melantopia Music (2016)

A lot of the music featured in this spot comes by request from area musicians hoping to spread the word.

Sometimes, however, a solicitation comes from outside the region. And, in the case of Melantopia, it comes all the way from Europe.

“Norwegian Summers” is an instrumental composition by Jarl Aanestad of Norway. The style is electronic and ambient, at times eerily similar to music on “The Fragile,” as if Aanestad stole some B-sides from Trent Reznor’s basement. (That’s not a knock on Melantopia — “The Fragile” was among the best records produced anywhere in 1999.)

In spite of its name, the music on “Norwegian Summers” is actually a nice pairing with our dismal winter months in western Pennsylvania. 

Stream this mood music now by searching for Melantopia on Spotify.


The Vinyl Review: Millennial musings

I have written about the recent record renaissance in past reviews — the renewed interest in needle on plastic. 

It’s a greatly different way to enjoy music than the various digital options available today. It’s somewhat surprising that young people — yes, millennials — are among those buying vinyl. 

But millennials are slowly starting to approach another stage of adulthood. Some of them are in their 30s. The biggest segment of society will soon be having families. They will soon be facing the diseases that plague middle-aged people. They will be fighting time with greater intensity than 20-year-olds. 

Biology and chemistry always win. 

Society tends to treat millennials like a group of people with everlasting youth. They will constantly be on the cutting-edge of technology. Marketers are always trying to find what they want now. 

But perhaps it’s what they will want when they are facing male-pattern baldness and menopause that matters most. What will this large, influential generation want from the world when they have experience and have faced the rigors of the passage of time? 

Maybe they will want records to listen to and a newspaper to read. Maybe they will be the generation that will want to slow down. Will they bemoan the fast-paced lives of their kids and grandkids? 

Older people from different generations seem to always have something in common — regardless of technology — and that’s a want for the world to stop spinning so darn fast. 

Records are always spinning at the same speed. 

(To those born in 1984: Technically millennials [by some metrics] but closer in philosophy to Generation X, these people are in a generational gap. But that’s just a matter of opinion.)


Resident artists’ work exhibited at Bottle Works

Our Town Correspondent

Bottle Works Arts on Third’s nine resident artists will have their work on display in the Bottle Works galleries through Feb. 25.
The exhibit, dubbed “Studio Works,” opened to the public Jan. 27.

“This is an opportunity for us to showcase and share with the community the talent of our resident artists who are here quietly creating all year long while exhibits, events and classes go on around them,” said Laura Argenbright, Bottle Works’ newly appointed executive director. “It is also a chance for the public to discover and support the arts movement that is thriving in Cambria City.”

Bottle Works’ resident artists, all of whom have studios either in the Bottle Works building or the neighboring Art Works building, are Josh Ensley, Marcene Glover, Jaime Helbig, Brandon Hirt, Holly Lees, Joanne Mekis, Todd Stiffler, Christopher Tower and Laura Williamson.

Argenbright said this exhibit is as unique as the artists themselves.

Submitted photo
Marcene Glover — a former congressional portrait artist and courtroom artist who is active with national arts advocacy organizations — is having her art displayed at Bottle Works.

“Each artist brings his or her own style and statement to this exhibit,” Argenbright said. “I think that people will delight in the diversity of this exhibit, realizing how each of our artists brings his or her own perspective to the collective show. Together, they form an impressive collaboration of work ranging from impasto brushstrokes of realism to dynamic contemporary expressions.”

Ensley said that his artwork is inspired by “the way (his) art impacts people and the way that they interact with the finished piece.”

“My job as an artist is to fill the world with more virtuosity,” Ensley said. “I work in a lot of different styles using a wide variety of materials. Each new medium, motif or material sharpens both my critical thinking and physical skills so that my work improves across the board with each new project.”

Glover enjoys painting subtleties that hint at subject matter, coax viewers to define the details and inspire viewers to engage in the conversation with the painting. Glover is a former congressional portrait artist and courtroom artist who is active with national arts advocacy organizations, commuting weekly to New York City to exhibit her work and help curate shows.

Helbig, an oil painter, has honed her skills as a contemporary figurative painter. Her latest work features a series of local cityscapes. 

Helbig has a bachelor’s in art education and a master’s in painting and drawing. She also serves as an adjunct professor at Pennsylvania Highlands Community College.

Hirt, a photographer, described his art by saying: “My photography is a box of chocolates that is full of variety image-making. My sweet tooth really is long exposure photography. Using these techniques, I am able to create luminous landscapes that reveal a peacefulness or chaos to a scene.”

Lees, also a photographer, recently became an art and mindfulness teacher. She is particularly interested in the role of art as a tool for self-discovery and acceptance. Her portraits share stories of individuals and communities around the world.

Award-winning graphic designer Mekis has created logos and symbols for a wide variety of clients around the country. She also enjoys acrylic painting, plus teaching art and art history to both children and adults.

Stiffler’s mixed media work is created from action figures and collaged comic book images. He aims to attract viewers’ attention through vivid shapes and patterns.

Tower also uses patterns in his work; the artist creates a wide-ranging color combination of marker and black pen outlines on paper. In his patterns, described as “caveman meets comic book,” he strives to create art that is “crazy, cool and fun.”

Submitted photo
Chris Tower is shown above at a former Bottle Works exhibit. The artist Tower uses patterns in his work to create wide-ranging color combination of marker and black pen outlines on paper. 

Williamson is a piano teacher who opened her Bottle Works studio, “Piano for Pleasure,” to the public in 2014. She teaches recreational piano classes to adults of all ages and abilities. Her career as a music-teaching artist includes solo and collaborative piano performing, editorial consulting, mentoring, and teaching private and group lessons.

Argenbright said that each resident artist is, in his or her own unique way, making a positive impact on the community.

“Each artist feels passionately about his/her work and projects it through teaching, community/public art projects such as the Pillar Project and exhibiting,” Argenbright said.

In celebration of the exhibit, Bottle Works will host an “Art Bites” luncheon Feb. 11 beginning at noon. The luncheon is to give attendees an opportunity to meet and talk to the artists, as well as participate in a panel discussion.

Bottle Works—Arts on Third Avenue is located at 411 Third Ave. in Johnstown’s Cambria City neighborhood. For more information about the exhibit or the upcoming “Art Bites” luncheon, visit online or call a staff member at 814-535-2020 or 814-536-5399.

Gallery hours are Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Argenbright said she’s thrilled about this exhibit, and viewers might even walk away from it with a unique gift for someone special.

“The artistic aptitude that is evident in this show is a testament to the talent Bottle Works fosters here in Johnstown,” Argenbright said. “The majority of the pieces in this exhibit will be for sale, and it does lend itself to a very meaningful, locally crafted gift for Valenitne’s Day or any special occasion.”

Symphony seeks to rebound, expand programming


JOHNSTOWN — Maestro James Blachly and board members of the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra aim to add some innovative new events in 2017.

Goals include new partnerships with young entreprenuers, with area schools and universities, and a “Mozart on the Lawn” summer series in downtown Johnstown. They hope to also bring back the July 4 Point Stadium show, a tradition that was cancelled last year.

But to do this, organizers said during a fund drive press conference at the downtown Johnstown Holiday Inn on Jan. 25, increased financial support is necessary.

“When Johnstown does well, the symphony does well,” Blachly told the audience. “And when the symphony does well, Johnstown does well.
“Let’s go forward together.”

The symphony, according to fund drive Chairwoman Karen Azer, is a year removed from a campaign that raised less than $50,000 under different leadership. The goal for 2017 is to hit $100,000 — a feat that, she said, has been done in the past.

“We are confident we can reach it and, hopefully, exceed it,” she said, adding that trustees have kicked things off with a joint $15,000 contribution.

Azer also emphasized the costs associated with hosting world-class talent. The July 4 show at the Point Stadium, she said, costs more than $20,000 when the sound system is factored in.

“We believe making a commitment to the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra is making a commitment to the community at large. It takes a village to make a campaign like this successful,” she said.

Bill Locher — Azer’s co-chair of the fund drive and an executive with Somerset Trust Co. — agreed.

“I see the importance of having a symphony orchestra here as part of the culturual fiber of the community,” he said.

Financial forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service show significant fluctuations in program service revenue in recent years for the symphony. The nonprofit generated $143,376 in this category in 2011-12, but just $93,349 in 2012-13.

That figure rebounded to $118,699 in 2013-14, only to fall again to $95,924 in 2014-15. No filings were listed online for 2015-16.

In his opening for the press event, local television anchor Marty Radovanic recalled the first time he saw Johnstown Symphony Orchestra many years ago.

“I was blown away that day,” he said. “And I feel that same way every time I see this (symphony).”

To help reach the $100,000 goal, the Johnstown Symphony Orchestra is receiving the help this year of all board members and nearly 60 volunteers to solicit contributions. The plan is to mail information brochures to previous donors, those who buy tickets and members of groups that perform with the symphony.

Proceeds from the fund drive are to help the symphony support its overall operating budget, its youth orchestra and Inclined to Sing Children’s Chorus programs. Board members also hope to continue the symphony’s annual Mother’s Day show in Somerset.

Those with questions are asked to contact the symphony office at 814-535-6738. Donations are tax-deductible, and can be made online at

The Wall: Events for the week of Feb. 1st

Who: Johnstown Street Survivors
What: Auto parts swap meet
Where: Windber Community Building
When: Feb. 5 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Additional details: A nominal entry fee will be charged. All are welcome.
Who: National Park Service
What: Junior Ranger Days
Where: Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site
When: Feb. 4
Additional details: Junior rangers can earn their junior ranger badge this winter at Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site. This program, which begins at 2 p.m., is designed for children between the ages of 8 and 13. Children are to do a fun activity with a park ranger, be sworn in as junior rangers and then given a junior ranger badge. Call the Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site at 814-886-6150 for more information. To ensure that an adequate amount of materials are available for participants, reservations for Junior Ranger Days are required. Parents and guardians are encouraged to stay and help, as well. Please call either 814-886-6150 or 814-886-6170 to make reservations.
Who: Community Arts Center of Cambria County 
What: Creating glass jewelry workshop
Where: 1217 Menoher Blvd. in Westmont
When: Feb. 11, but registrations due ASAP
Additional details: This workshop is suited for adults and youth ages 12 and up. The workshop is to take place from 10 a.m. to noon. There is a registration fee. To register, call 814-255-6515.
Who: Community Arts Center of Cambria County
What: Creating a Glass Tile Workshop
Where: CACCC, located at 1217 Menoher Boulevard in Westmont
When: Feb. 18 but registrations due ASAP
Additional details: This workshop is suited for adults and youth ages 12 and up. The workshop will take place from 10 a.m. to noon. There is a registration fee. To register call 814-255-6515.
Who: Inclined to Read Bookstore
What: February Features
Where: Inclined to Read Bookstore, located inside the Cambria County Library in downtown Johnstown
When: The month of February
Additional details: This month, Inclined to Read Bookstore in February features biographies priced at $1 each, and the raffle is an 8’’ x 11’’ art piece made from jewelry pieces. Chances can be purchased inside the bookstore, and the drawing is to take place Feb. 23 at noon. In addition to February’s feature, the store is filled with nonfiction books, with topics including art, business, classics, gardening, health and wellness, history and sports. There is also a murder mystery room inside the bookstore. Winter hours are 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. Inclined to Read will be closed Feb. 20 in observance of Presidents Day.
Who: Windber Area Community Kitchen (W.A.C.K.)
What: Free community dinner
Where: Windber Calvary United Methodist Church, located at 1800 Stockholm Ave. in Windber
When: Feb. 4 from 4 to 6 p.m.
Additional details: This meal will be served by Boy Scouts Troop 110. The menu features spaghetti, green beans, fruit cocktail, assorted desserts and beverages. All are welcome.

Review: ‘Manchester by the Sea’ is phenomenal


Occasionally it seems as if we’ve become disillusioned as a society, so bereft of self-esteem that to find heroes we need to turn to film adaptations of comic books. In the absence of authentic, real-life examples of moral integrity, we instead need to measure ourselves against characters who leap tall buildings at a single bound, harness genetic distinctions to vanquish otherworldly despots or sweep through outer space in futuristic fighter jets to liberate oppressed civilizations in galaxies far, far away.

We sometimes need to be reminded that those people who toil quietly day after day in lives of common decency — obeying society’s rules, working unspectacular professions, providing for their families, supporting their friends, envisioning modest dreams of a better life ahead — are the genuine Supermen and Wonder Women of our world.

One movie which recognizes that essential truth — and gets it right, and celebrates it — is the new release “Manchester by the Sea,” written and directed by playwright Kenneth Lonergan and distributed by Amazon Studios, a subsidiary of the popular online retailer of books, games and movies.

In “Manchester by the Sea,” a man on the worn edge of youth lives out a solitary and humorless existence as a custodian in a Boston apartment building. Played by actor Casey Affleck, Lee Chandler regards the world through wary, guarded eyes and keeps humanity at arm’s length, drawing no more or less satisfaction from a cold beer after work than from unclogging a tenant’s stopped toilet during his workday.

One afternoon while shoveling snow, Lee receives a telephone call: His brother has suffered a heart attack, and has been taken in critical condition to the hospital in the nearby town of Manchester by the Sea. Lee displays no outward emotion at the news — he quietly assures the caller he’ll leave for the hospital immediately. Manchester by the Sea is Lee’s hometown, we are told. He left there years earlier under unknown circumstances.

Arriving at the hospital, Lee learns his brother has died, and that he needs to assume a measure of family responsibility and attend to the brother’s unresolved business and final arrangements. In the process he’ll need to interact with friends and family members he hasn’t seen or spoken with in a number of years.

From that point forward, “Manchester by the Sea” departs from a traditional narrative structure. As the estranged Lee begins to somberly address his burdens, he draws upon memories of the past, presented to the viewer in the form of flashbacks.

Little by little, we learn about Lee’s family and his background. And as we eventually discover the unspeakable tragedy which devastated the laconic custodian’s life and drove him away, we realize what a selfless and heroic gesture he’s undertaken by returning home to assume his brother’s responsibilities.

Actor Casey Affleck has at times during his career seemed almost to court audience indifference. Often regarded as the less-flamboyant younger brother of Academy Award-winning superstar Ben Affleck — the older Affleck’s buddy and occasional collaborator Matt Damon is one of the producers of “Manchester by the Sea” — possibly Casey Affleck’s most memorable role prior to this picture was as Bob Ford in 2007’s “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” in which the actor inhabited the character of a man reviled by history and damned in folklore — not exactly superstar material. Casey Affleck is one actor who’s resisted donning the spandex uniform and cape of a comic book superhero.

The highest accolade for both “Manchester by the Sea,” and for Affleck’s performance in it, is that is seems as if writer/director Lonergan conspired with cinematographer Jody Lee Lipes to simply camouflage the camera and capture life itself, in all its emotional pageantry. Like film ancestors such as 1979’s “Kramer vs. Kramer” and 1980’s “Ordinary People,” this picture actually seem natural enough to enforce the notion that we’re eavesdropping on actual occurrences, or viewing another family’s home movies.

We learn that Lee’s brother Joe, a charter boat owner, has always guided him and tried to shield him from life’s unfairnesses. And that in either one final lesson in responsibility or a cardinal gesture of confidence — we’re not quite sure which — the now-deceased brother has entrusted Lee with the custody of his 16-year-old son.

Playing Joe in flashbacks is Kyle Chandler, an actor whose movie star good looks belie his range and effectiveness in the roles he plays. Late of television’s critically acclaimed “Friday Night Lights” — he played the coach — Chandler has also contributed quietly authoritative and eminently persuasive supporting performances in such pictures as Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” remake, Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” and the 2011 Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams collaboration “Super 8.”

In one telling flashback episode of “Manchester by the Sea,” Lee and Joe and Joe’s young son arrive home to discover Joe’s fragile and neurotic wife passed out on the couch, nude, in an alcoholic stupor. Wordlessly, automatically, the two brothers with practiced nonchalance move together to protect the young son from the sight of his mom’s shame — obviously this has happened before.

As Lee swiftly spirits the boy from the room, Joe lingers for a moment, considers, and then in an act of gentle decency covers his wife with a blanket. There’s no anger, contempt or bitterness in his eyes, only infinite disappointment and sadness. Not many actors could pull off that delicacy of emotion as effectively, especially without dialogue. Chandler does.

Also contributing a memorable characterization to the picture is the superb Michelle Williams, who enhances and enriches seemingly every film in which she chooses to appear, from the title role as Marilyn Monroe in the acclaimed “My Week with Marilyn,” to “Brokeback Mountain” and Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island.” As Lee’s former wife, Williams etches another memorable characterization in a resume as one of the finest performers in American film, although her role in this picture is not as large as her billing suggests.

But a real revelation in “Manchester by the Sea” is the performance of Lucas Hedges as Joe’s emotionally orphaned son, Patrick. Alternately outgoing and guarded, aggressive and vulnerable, manipulative and trusting, Hedges’ Patrick persuasively invests the character of the wounded teenager with all the qualities found in real life.

Like two virtuosos playing dueling solos, the scenes between the brash Hedges and the laconic Affleck are the highlight of the picture. Plainly Lucas Hedges is one young actor who’s going places.

Appropriately, the music soundtrack for the picture, composed by Lesley Barber, is strongly reminiscent of symphonic passages and tone poems, with a particular similarity to the intricate and exacting works of Antonio Vivaldi. As with the best of the romantic classics, not a note is wasted. And in this movie as with an orchestral performance, even the members of the ensemble with the smallest parts are essential to the overall quality of the piece.

Near the end of the picture is a brief episode which takes place on the deceased Joe Chandler’s charter boat. The scene is set in the present, after Joe’s burial, and onboard to test the craft’s seaworthiness are Lee, Patrick and Patrick’s girlfriend. The boy is piloting the boat around the harbor.

Impulsively, Patrick invites his girlfriend to take the wheel for a moment and steer the boat. Nervous, she simultaneously accelerates and turns the craft sharply — a deadly combination. But Lee, in the back of the boat, never flinches or reaches out to steady himself. Instead, he just flexes his hips and knees and rolls with the lurch of the boat — a balanced man, living with confidence for possibly the first time in his life.

But the real denouement of the scene is the expression we see in that moment on Affleck’s face: His brow, until now darkened and knotted with anxiety, is bright with confidence and optimism, and his guarded face is melted into a broad smile of ease and happiness. For the first time in the picture there’s love and affection in his eyes. It’s a family moment, and at long last Lee has assumed a place in his family dynamic, tasting responsibility and liking it, making decisions on behalf of others — good or bad, right or wrong — but prepared to live with the consequences.

It’s an important moment, not only in the picture but also likely among all the films of the year: It is in that moment that we behold a flawed and fallible character embrace maturity, and begin to grow and more forward.

“Manchester by the Sea” is the rare motion picture which invites us to invest in its characters, and walk along with them. Even at 137 minutes the film leaves us wanting more. It enlightens us as it entertains us, and leaves us with an impression of humanity we sense might remain with us long into the future.

Currently the picture is playing in the smaller auditoriums of local multiplexes. But when Academy Award nominations are revealed in a few weeks, “Manchester by the Sea” is one of the titles we’ll surely be hearing announced.


Before you discuss Milwaukee Special Reserve, you almost have to first dispel some natural misconceptions.

Believe it or not, this beer is a brand of Melanie Brewing Co., which also produces Nighthawk Premium Malt Liquor and Beer 30 Ice. (Full disclosure: Never heard of either prior to researching for this review piece). 

Milwaukee Special Reserve, Milwaukee Special Reserve Light and Milwaukee Special Reserve Ice, therefore, have no familial relation to Old Milwaukee or Milwaukee’s Best. 

This a fairly unremarkable effort. The color’s pale, the smell negligible, and finish sharp and dry. Essentially unsatisfying yet inoffensive — characteristic of the $13-per-30-pack genre.

Non-related and far more tasty Old Milwaukee will much sooner return to my fridge than this stuff. Make of that what you will.


The Vinyl Review: The Doors Greatest Hits

It was time for a record reset.
I have been listening to a mixture of music from plastic spanning several decades during the last few weeks. Records featuring gospel, country and R&B have been under the needle. 

It was time to cleanse the plastic palate, as it were. 

I pulled my album of greatest hits by The Doors. I have documented the record before in past reviews. But it’s been a while. 

Nothing cuts through the silence of a cold morning like the opening guitar riff of “Break on Through.” I tested the speakers attached to my record player more greatly than any other time in recent memory. 

There’s nothing wrong with Willie, Waylan and the boys. 

It was simply time to get back to vinyl rock basics.

(Other ballyhooed resets: Russian, television, the dinner table.)